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China's Body Image Obsession

Every week there is a new social media fad running rampant on the internet. Ever since the ice bucket challenge took the online world by storm, organisations and individuals have been desperately trying to recreate its success. Many of them are simply a bit of light-hearted fun, while others seek to promote an important message. In China however, they seem more focused on appearance, fuelling a surge in downright unhealthy challenges.

It all began with the Belly Button Challenge. This craze encouraged people to wrap their arm around their back to touch their belly button, falsely asserting that this achievement proved that you were fit and healthy. Despite medical professionals issuing statements denouncing the fad and the science behind it, that did little to discourage participation. Doctors and counsellors feared that the challenge would have a detrimental effect on health both physical and mental, especially for those suffering from, or vulnerable to, eating disorders.

Next came the Collarbone Challenge. Equally as worrying, the challenge involved placing stacks of coins in the groove created by your collarbone. The supposed logic being that the more coins you could balance, the skinnier and 'fitter' you were. Rather than promoting a healthy body image, this craze was actively encouraging severe weight loss to the point of having your bones protruding. In what messed up world is that a good thing? We've all seen the distressing photos that have emerged online of those suffering from eating disorders to such severity that their skeletal structure is visible. These people are clearly suffering and to encourage others to follow suit is sickening.

Thankfully, the latest trend to emerge from China, while still overly focused on people's looks, isn't quite as bad. Taking inspiration from Taylor Swift, this one is all about draping your legs over as many people as possible. The reason being that in China long, slender legs are considered highly desirable. At least this one isn't encouraging unhealthy weight loss, but it is still effectively just another form of 'Body-Shaming' against those who do not possess the 'ideal' body shape.

Now, I'm all for people taking pride in their appearance, but to do so at the expense of making others feel ugly or inferior shouldn't be acceptable. This singular focus on personal aesthetics is reminiscent of an age where women were perceived as little more than a pretty companion for their man. I had thought, and hoped, that we had moved beyond such dated perceptions, but some people seem determined to drag us back down.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working as Editor of Social Songbird, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @SamAtSMF

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China's Body Image Obsession Reviewed by Unknown on Saturday, June 27, 2015 Rating: 5

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